Tuberculosis Facts

What is TB?

"TB" is short for a disease called tuberculosis. TB is spread by tiny germs that can float in the air. The TB germs may spray into the air if a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, shouts, or sneezes. Anyone nearby can breathe TB germs into their lungs.

TB germs can live in your body without making you sick. This is called TB infection. Your immune system traps TB germs with special germ fighters. Your germ fighters keep TB germs from making you sick. But sometimes the TB germs can break away. Then they cause TB disease. The germs can attack the lungs or other parts of the body. They can go to the kidneys, the brain, or the spine. If anyone has TB disease, they need medical help. If they don't get help, they can die.


How do I know if I have TB infection?

A skin test is a way to tell if you have TB infection. This test is usually done on the arm. A small needle is used to put some testing material, called tuberculin, under the skin. In two or three days, a health worker will check to see if there is a reaction to the test. The test is "positive" if a bump about the size of a pencil eraser or bigger appears on your arm. This bump means you probably have the TB infection. You may need medicine to keep from getting sick. Your body may not react to a TB skin test and a health worker may give you other tests.

The TB skin test should be done when you first enter a school.  If it is "negative" then it may be repeated every year if exposed.  You may be tested more often to be sure you don't have TB infection.

Note: If you or your student has ever had a "Positive" reaction to a TB skin test or if you have been treated with TB drugs, tell your school nurse.